Babies are born with a natural supply of iron, but by six months it starts to run low and they need more iron from food. Starting solids is how we make sure baby is getting the additional foods containing iron. Continue to offer iron-rich foods every day, to help prevent iron deficiency.
At 7 months of age baby will be starting to eat a wider variety of foods from the key food groups. Offering your growing baby a variety of foods will encourage them to eat well and get plenty of nutrients including iron.
Iron is an essential mineral for the healthy growth and development of your baby. Iron is needed for carrying oxygen in our blood, our muscles and brain and strengthening our immune system.
A few tips to maximise iron intake:
Offer iron-fortified baby cereals: All of the Farex® dry infant cereal range are fortified with iron and there are different flavours available for older babies with more texture variety. Iron-fortified infant cereals are easy to prepare and can be added to other recipes like mashed fruits and vegetables to thicken and help increase iron intake.
Meat is full of iron: Lean red beef, lamb, pork, chicken and fish are all good sources of iron. The more red-coloured the meat is, generally the higher the iron content - so beef and lamb are up there with the best sources of iron! You can offer your 7 month old cooked finely minced meat. For older babies finely chopped soft slices of meat are good as finger food.
Plant foods contain iron: Although not as well absorbed as iron from meat, cooked mashed tofu and legumes (like chickpeas, lentils, green peas), and steamed and pureed leafy green veges (like broccoli, spinach, choy sum) are all plant foods which contain iron.
Foods high in Vitamin C help iron absorption: You can help your baby absorb iron from 'non-meat' foods by including Vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables at meal times. Lots of fruit and vegetables contain Vitamin C including capsicums, broccoli, tomatoes, mandarins, oranges and kiwifruit.
Milk: Breastfeed (or use formula) until your baby is at least 12 months old. The iron in breast milk is well absorbed, and formula is made with added iron. Cow’s milk is low in iron and is not suitable as a drink for babies until 12 months onwards.
If you are concerned your baby is not getting enough iron in their diet, or would like more information, reach out to your Plunket nurse, a dietitian or qualified health professional.
Ministry of Health. 2021. Healthy Eating Guidelines for New Zealand Babies and Toddlers (0–2 years old). Wellington: Ministry of Health.
The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.